Looking back on 2023.

I started to sit down and make some plans and goals for the coming year here on the homestead. And as a jumping point, I decided to look back on everything I had tried and learned in 2023.

Turns out, it was quite a bit!

So here’s a little snapshot of the experiments, both successes and failures, of the last year.

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In the Garden

Take my new asparagus bed, for instance. When it comes to the good, the bad, and the ugly, it’s all three! I had a space in my garden that just hasn’t been practical for growing annuals, or for anything that needs lots of care. So I decided to plant it with asparagus and be done with it.

But I needed enough plants that buying crowns was going to be way too expensive! So I bought seed, and started them indoors. That was not an experience I want to repeat. But I did it and now have a nice big bed of asparagus that I can start harvesting in a couple of years.

Just right now, it’s looking pretty pitiful.

Because my asparagus took up so much room under my grow lights, I tried…and failed…winter sowing jugs. I love the concept! But our weather got too warm and I forgot to open them. So most of my plants died.

Seedlings in plastic containers on a kitchen counter.

I succeeded in germinating onions inside, but didn’t manage to make a successful transition to the garden. So that’s something to try again next year.

And then I procrastinated and didn’t get my summer garden in as early as I could have. I learned that cucumbers can tolerate being planted really late. I still had them coming out of my ears! So I learned to make pickles, both refrigerator and canned.

I finally tried growing squash plants vertically. I mostly got male blossoms, and didn’t actually get any harvest, but the plants thrived. So I think I want to do this again–just not with bamboo stakes.

In the Kitchen

A loaf of hand made yeast bread on a cutting board.

When my second bread machine died, I decided to just learn to make bread by hand. It took a little tweaking of the recipe, but it’s a skill I’ve really enjoyed developing. You can grab my sandwich bread recipe here.

I also started to overcome my fear of canning! I definitely gained confidence with water bath canning. I canned four different kinds of jam, and some pickles. They made awesome homemade gifts for my family this year!

With the Livestock

A group of seven baby chickens in a blue brooder.

I raised another batch of chicks, and learned an easier way to keep the brooder clean when they’re really little. (Pssst! It’s paper towels over the wood shavings.)

We dealt with pasty butt, and learned it’s a lot more fun when your chickens are different colors and you can tell them apart. These birds have so much personality!

I had struggles with raccoons and had to learn how to deter them from coming around. Then I had trouble with mice in the chicken coop and had to deal with that!

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom! While I was visiting family, I got to milk a goat for the first time! All by myself, too, so it was figure it out, or the goat didn’t get milked!

What Next?

A woman holding a jar of goat milk.

Overall, it’s been a year jam-packed with trying new things and learning a lot! And this was the year that I started my blog, so that’s been in the background the whole time, too.

Next year, I hope to share more of what I’m doing and learning on the homestead. It may be hard at times, but homesteading has been so rewarding I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to next year!

Did you learn anything new last year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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